Chester County GOP Purging Conservatives? — So what’s going on in Chester County?
Elected small-government, anti-corruption committeepeople have been sent letters calling them before a Jan.11 county Republican inquisition with the intent to remove them.
Donna Ellingsen, the committeewoman who represents Elk Township in Area 19 for the GOP party, and her committeeman, are accused of violating party bylaws for supporting a candidate other than the nominated one. Oh the horror. The violations, by the way, are not specified in the letter.
Donna did tell us that she supported a challenger against Estace Walters, an Oxford Good Government candidate who won the 2015 May primary for township supervisor. Of course, Donna notes that Walters was seen actively colluding with the Democrats, and was featured as the Dem/Rep candidate on the November ballot.
She also noted that Walters was helped by Mark Plaugher who actively worked alongside the Democrats in the May 2015 primary polls to have Walters elected as the Democrat candidate.
“They used a very close facsimile of the official Republican sample ballot which employed a very close facsimile of the GOP elephant logo and made it seem that Walters was the GOP-endorsed candidate to the GOP voters,” she said.
Also receiving notices of violating bylaws in Area 19 were the two committeepeople in East Nottingham, Jane Ladley and her committeeman.
Ms. Ladley chairs the Chesco GOP’s Area 19 which includes Elk Township, and is also a strong conservative.
Contributing to the Byzantine brou-haha is Mark Plaugher who was previously the GOP chair for Area 19 before being replaced by Ms. Ladley in 2014.
Plaugher started the Oxford Good Government in 2015 which specifically ran candidates against the legitimate Area 19 Committee-endorsed candidates in the May 2015 primaries, Donna says. He was assisted in his efforts by several well-known operatives with ties to the Chesco GOP.
The group raised a not-inconsiderable sum of money and was successful in taking down the conservative Area 19 endorsed candidates in several townships including Elk and East Nottingham in this past November election.
“The money trail ends in Harrisburg at 121 State St.,” Donna says.
The address belongs to State Street Strategies, a political consulting firm owned by Ray Zaborney and his wife, Jennifer.
Plaugher has a Delaware County connection. At the turn of the Millennium, he was executive director of the Southwest Delaware County Municipality Authority which deals with sewage waste. You can read about Plaugher’s tenure and why he left at this link.
You think maybe the problem isn’t with the committee people — all of whom are popularly elected — but with the candidates handpicked by the county party leadership?
This is sounding like more of a purge rather than an attempt to maintain necessary order.
Consider that GOP Chesco Treasurer Paul Andriole even signed the petition for a Democrat candidate to get on the Republican ballot for the 2015 Primary.
Meanwhile, the guy running Area 1 for Chesco and a reputedly close associate of the Chesco GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio, has a long history of supporting big government causes. His name is Alex Rahn and he is reputed to be the brains behind a shadow group calling themselves the United Republicans of Chester County that has been trying unsuccessfully since 2012 to take out the county GOP grassroots factions such as the Elk and East Nottingham committeepeople.
Rahn directed political activities for Republican/Democrat Senator Arlen Specter in 2003/2004 before becoming vice president of government affairs with Rajant Corp., founding AKR Government Solutions and becoming a senior associate with Wanner Associates, a government relations consulting firm.
His most recent venture is a Farmers Insurance agency in Thorndale with his wife Kara.
And this brings us to Kara.
Kara has been a Democrat active in liberal causes. In 2012 she gave $2,000 to Bob Casey For Senate Inc. — a pretty generous contribution considering her job at the time was Delaware County Transportation Manager. In 2010, she doled out $4,600: $2,000 to ActBlue, $2,000 to Sestak for Senate and $600 to Democrat Congressman Rob Andrews.
Besides the insurance agency, Kara was hired recently as assistant director at Voter Services and even more recently became acting director of Voter Services of Chesco, where the reliable Jim Forsythe is no more the director. An abrupt change not previously foreseen by anyone on the outside.
This incestuous bipartisan nepotism appears to go all the way to the top.
Chairman DiGiorgio’s wife, Carolina, landed a nice job in February as head of the Commerce Department of Democrat-controlled Montgomery County. Carolina’s salary is $105,000 not including benefits. We are sure she is putting in the full 40-hours per week doing the brutal, thankless work that Commerce Department heads do.
And we’re sure there’s no conflict of interest in wives of top operatives in the Republican party working hand-in-hand with Democrats.